Andrew Donaldson on profitable toilet tenders, Bongani Bongo, and related matters
A FAMOUS GROUSE
CURIOUS news from mainland China. Back in October 2013, Tan Youhui, a property developer in Guangxi province, was sued by a rival developer over some business dispute, the details of which aren’t important.
However, and rather than face his rival in court, Tan paid an assassin, Xi Guangan, some $282 000 to make the problem disappear. Xi then hired another hitman, Mo Tianxiang, and paid him $140 000 to do the job instead.
Mo, in turn, subcontracted a third hitman, Yang Kangsheng, paying him about $38 000 and promising a further sum of around $71 000 when the job was done. Yang then offered the job to a fourth man, Yang Guangsheng, with an upfront payment of $28 000 and another $71 000 promised when the hit was done.
This second Yang then subcontracted a fifth hitman, Ling Xiansi, for a paltry $14 000. Ling, who must have realised that he was at the very tail end of a process that was almost done in the trickle-down department, then hatched what in other circumstances may have been considered a cunning plan.
He approached the target and suggested they fake the hit and share the $14 000. Ling then photographed this unnamed developer with his hands tied behind his back. It was not very convincing evidence of a job well done, but this image nevertheless circulated back through the chain of assassins all the way to Tan.
The target, perhaps after considering the impracticalities of playing dead while otherwise going about his daily business, then approached the police and spilled the beans.
Last month, after a lengthy legal process, Tan, Xi, Mo, Yang, Yang and Ling (it does rather sound like the chorus of a cheesy 1960s pop song) were all jailed after the Nanning Intermediate People’s Court found them guilty of “intentional homicide”.
Anyway, there was much pause for thought about all this at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”).
It reminded the expats a lot of the woo woo that is ubuntu, and the sharing of one’s humanity for the benefit of one’s neighbours.
There is much of this sort of thing, for instance, in the provision of housing for the poor. Dubious tenders would be awarded and a flurry of sub-contracting would follow with ineptitude mounting upon ineptitude until eventually some wretched individuals would be handed the keys to a pile of rubble and told, “Here, pretend this is your new home.”
The good news, though, is that there is occasionally a reckoning. This week, for example, it was reported that there have been a number of arrests by the Hawks in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape over the great crapper scandal of 2015.
This, readers will recall, concerned the awarding of a R630-million tender to the shadowy Siyenza Group to build some 66 000 toilets in the Eastern Cape’s Amathole district. The proper procurement procedures, we have been drily informed, “were allegedly not followed”.
Details weren’t available at the time of writing, but those arrested are reported to include high-ranking government officials and “business people”.
Several ANC officials are said to be linked to the Siyenza Group — and why shouldn’t they be, at almost R10 000 a bog? This, bluntly speaking, is some profitable shit.
Of course, it’s even more profitable if you don’t provide the toilets. Earlier this year, the Daily Dispatch reported that more than 36 000 units had mysteriously disappeared in some “backlog”.
Which does seem par for the course, considering that, according to records at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, the Siyenza Group doesn’t even officially exist.
Meanwhile, and in a separate matter, the Hawks have also announced the arrest of former state security minister and chair of parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee Bongani Bongo on bribery and corruption charges.
Some of the UK national newspapers suggest this development is a boost for Cyril Ramaphosa as the president’s “longstanding promise to root out corruption”, as one report confidently stated, “was beginning to sound hollow”.
Of course, Bongo is the only high-ranking government nob to have been arrested thus far in this vaunted clean-up. We are assured that more arrests will follow, and perhaps, maybe, possibly, there’s a touch of nerves and some apprehension out there in this regard.
The nipping of straws is, if I recall, the appropriate schoolyard terminology.
Bongo, an ardent Zuptnik, was sworn in as an MP in 2014. Prior to that, he apparently did rather well for himself as head of legal services in Mpumalanga’s department of human settlements. Last year, the Mail & Guardian reported that property developers had allegedly paid the deposit of a BMW X5 he’d had his eye on as a reward for approving their purchase of municipal-owned farms.
He didn’t particularly shine as state security minister, the highlight of his career being his selection as one of Jacob Zuma’s envoys despatched to Harare following the November 2017 coup that unseated Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s generals, however, clearly regarded him as a lightweight and ignored him completely, save for a few off-colour remarks about his mismatched socks and the sand in his ears.
His present difficulties stem from events that took place a month before this disastrous foray in international affairs. In October 2017, he had allegedly attempted to bribe an advocate on a parliamentary inquiry into “irregularities” at Eskom. (The euphemisms are a killer, I know.)
The minister, so the charge goes, had asked Ntuthuzelo Vanara, evidence leader of the inquiry, “to take sick leave for the day on the day of the commencement of the commission with a view to derail the proceedings”. In return, he’d be given a blank cheque.
Vanara was having none of this ubuntu, and informed his seniors of what could be termed the Bongo intervention. DA leader John Steenhuisen, then the party’s chief whip, laid criminal charges against the minister in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
Eskom’s problems, however, do continue in customary fashion: one step forward, you may say, and three steps backwards. The trade unions and the radical economic transformation lunatic fringe have not taken too kindly to the appointment of Andre de Ruyter as CEO of the all but broken state-owned power utility.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, which is vehemently opposed to the unbundling strategy government hopes will save Eskom, is dead set against De Ruyter’s appointment on the basis that he is, like, uh, a white person.
The union’s general secretary, Irvin Jim, has warned that government is in the process of privatising the utility, and explained the position thus:
“This constitutes a setback when it comes to the transformation agenda in the country. This is an insult to blacks and Africans in this country, that — to date — in this country, since the democratic breakthrough, we do not have competent black women and black African who can occupy such a position.”
We will ignore, only for the moment, the fact that this is not for want of trying what with the cadre deployment being all up the wazoo and what-what and instead suggest that this is nothing more than the idiot braying of a racist ass.